Dropped trailer on the freeway! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-26-2010, 12:42 AM   #1
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Trailer: 1980 Perris Pacer
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Had a scare after an exhausting, but wonderful week long camping trip with my boys. Driving home, our 1980 13' Perris Pacer dropped off the hitch. I was 2 lanes over from the right. It was 9pm and I was throwing sparks everywhere. The freeway was packed, but thankfully the other drivers saw it slammed, on their brakes and let me over immediately. When I pulled over, I was shocked to find the safety chain had ripped off and the entire tongue was completely under the truck, having knocked the propane tank right off. Oddly enough, it was still plugged into the truck. I'm still not sure if somehow it was towed only by the plug?!

It was just me, alone with my 2 young boys on a busy Sacramento, CA freeway shoulder. I called my husband 100 miles away in a panic, knowing there was nothing he could do at that point! A CHP officer pulled over, then very shortly thereafter a tow truck. Together they were able to easily lift the trailer back onto the hitch and then someone yelled from off the freeway that I could drive right off the freeway since they were an RV dealer and could help me. They re-drilled and secured the safety chain, made sure the ball and hitch were all well and good, tightened up a bunch of stuff, asked for $20 and sent me on my merry way...Serendipity!

The only thing we could all figure was that I didn't secure it properly in the first place, which is odd since I did lock it into place and saw it drop on the hitch, but I had heard an odd sound when I went over bumps. I stopped and looked, but nothing had looked amiss. Why the trailer was not left on the freeway and smashed to a million pieces, I don't know. That my boys and I were safe, I am thankful. It seems someone was looking out for us that night!

Oh yeah, on the way to the camping trip, we drove over a screw and had a flat, too!! Anyway, I thought I'd share our tale of woe with a happy ending since it seems to be a scare everyone with a trailer ponders. At this point, having had to deal with a flat (with no spare) and dropping the trailer on a busy freeway at night all within a few days of each other while alone with my young kids, I figure we got our bad karma out of the way and we'll have smooth sailing for a while!

charlene
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Old 05-26-2010, 03:43 AM   #2
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WOW, talk about Great Luck!!! That Trailer Fairy sure must be watching over you....

You are (obviously...) so very fortunate to have nothing serious come about from what could have been a terrible disaster.

The Trailer Goddess an I have had that happen to us TWICE now, but both times it was at low speed. First time we had just left an event, were headed home and crossed over an elevated RXR track when the trailer came off the ball at the crest of the hill.

Second time, we were leaving the very same park and crossing over the very bumpy event field (Deming WA.) and all of a sudden felt the tow vehicle having to work real hard just to keep crawling along. Yells from fellow campers also allerted us to a/the problem. The hardest part (both times) was lifting our (tongue heavy) hitch back onto the ball!!

Since these two episodes I have learned to put the trailer on the ball, lock it down and THEN drop the 'leg' again and use it to try an lift the trailer off of the ball. I believe that IF the tow vehicles rear end starts to elevate while trying to lift the trailer (NOT from the trailer weight) I've made a 'safe' connection
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Old 05-26-2010, 03:48 AM   #3
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Cool

We all all glad that it ended on a good note. I ts a reminder to check and re check.
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:00 AM   #4
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Whew, that was close!
Good advice from Doug. I will try it.
Over the years I have always knelt down to peer at the
bottom of the coupler after hooking up to ensure that the
ball clamp is securely under the ball. So far, this has
prevented any mishaps.


Click image for larger version

Name:	service_hitchknob.gif
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ID:	28322


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Take Care, Larry H
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Whew, that was close!
Good advice from Doug. I will try it.
Over the years I have always knelt down to peer at the
bottom of the coupler after hooking up to ensure that the
ball clamp is securely under the ball, So far, this has
prevented any mishaps.


Attachment 28322


Hookup Hints: http://www.wildak.net/~rrrent/service.htm

Take Care, Larry H
It is very good advice from Larry and Doug, I do both as the ball lock in the picture can be pushed up when dropping the trailer and not catching the ball. Rejacking and looking under/feeling can tell you if you missed it.
I always double check each connection (including pins and chains) as I have once lost the cotter pin holding the receiver pin in on my father's 18ft utility trailer. the safety chains only had cheap hooks on the ends that broke off. I didn't know that the trailer was off untill I saw it passing me in the next lane.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:11 AM   #6
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I'm glad everything came out OK for you! That has to be one of the worst mishaps you can have while towing.

I dropped my trailer earlier this month leaving the Casita factory in Rice TX. It was brand new. I'd taken the trailer back to get a little leak fixed and when they were through I hooked up and took off. My GPS directed me off the highway a few exits down the road and the ramp started with a big dip and got the trailer bouncing and off it came. The safety chains and breakaway stayed connected but the tongue fell down to the asphalt and I pulled it about 15 yards.

I'm glad I wasn't still on the highway and there were no other drivers near. The only damage done, besides the asphalt, was that the sway bar got twisted in ways it wasn't meant to and the cups on both ends were bent out of shape. Nothing on the bottom of the trailer dragged. I have the electric tongue jack, but it was dead. I couldn't fit my truck's jack under the tongue and I ended up making a distress call to the factory. Victor came out and saved me. That's when I learned that the electric jack has a manual crank. An alligator clip inside the jack had come off it's contact, which is why there was no power. Victor fixed it easily and had me hooked up in no time.

Now I get on my knees and check that clamp every time. From the top it can look and feel like it's properly seated when it's only engaged the top half of the ball. I learned my lesson, but I'm happy with the way the trailer and safety systems performed.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:17 AM   #7
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Charlene,

Talk about a trying day!!! (or two!) You would have had me at flat tire!!! So glad you all are OK, and you're Pacer, too!!!!

Thanks for posting this, as this will be our first season camping--and I'm gonna lock this info in my brain!!!
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:58 AM   #8
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Charlene, obviously, you now know you can handle whatever comes along. Way to go Mom! Terry R
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Old 05-26-2010, 11:14 AM   #9
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Good suggestion. We couldn't do that after hooking up this time because we had been camping out in an undeveloped field. I tried to do that, but then couldn't get the "leg" to drop down, as we were in a bit of a low spot and the leg wouldn't even go beyond about 45degrees to the ground.

Laying down and getting a visual under the hitch is another good thing to do, which I, obviously, hadn't done!

Another interesting point is that getting out of the camping area was very bumpy and rough. My boys were screaming they were laughing so hard at being thrown around in the off road conditions. Then I had dirt roads to drive on. The trailer never jumped off at that time, just while on the smooth highway, at high speeds, after having traveled well over 150 miles. So, I know now to be cautious, even when I think the "difficult" part was behind us!

Thinking we need to make an altar to the Trailer Fairies!

charlene


Quote:
WOW, talk about Great Luck!!! That Trailer Fairy sure must be watching over you....

Since these two episodes I have learned to put the trailer on the ball, lock it down and THEN drop the 'leg' again and use it to try an lift the trailer off of the ball. I believe that IF the tow vehicles rear end starts to elevate while trying to lift the trailer (NOT from the trailer weight) I've made a 'safe' connection
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:23 PM   #10
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One other note is to check that you have the "fork" adjusted properly. I don't know the technical term for it, but I'm talking about that two-pronged bit that grabs the bottom of the ball when you lock the hitch on. That can be adjusted before you put it over the ball so that it is in the correct "ballpark" and then when you lock the hitch on it fits correctly. You don't adjust it every time, but just make sure it is set up properly (I have found that many are too loose when I first buy a trailer).
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Old 05-30-2010, 01:22 AM   #11
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Funny you should bring up this subject. 10 days ago I saw a very bewildered woman standing beside the 5 freeway in Irvine looking at the tailgate of her truck hanging by a shred of metal. Her 5th wheel cargo trailer had come unhitched and fortunately for her, the hitch had hooked itself onto the tailgate long enough for her to pull over to the side of the road. However, by the time she made it over, the tailgate had almost completely torn off the truck and her trailer was resting solidly on the ground. I'm glad both you and the woman with the 5th wheel made it to safety!
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Old 05-30-2010, 10:37 AM   #12
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I can't imagine the scare you had............


This is one of those task that I check and double check! Many times it just doesn't seem right. So I have asked others to check it for me. Only a couple of times was it not on, I knew it! But I couldn't get it on right and thanks to wonderful fellow campers they helped me get it on and secure. I once had it lock down, but it didn't look right, and just driving thru the campground I knew it wasn't. Due to Dh's Alzheimer's he can't help me, so I asked a fellow camper if he could help me. Of course he looked at me like, What you got a city boy camping with you? But after explaining the situation he was more than happy to help. And found that it was just riding on top of the ball, but locked on...... We re-hitched and it finally slipped onto the ball. I am so glad to hear you all made it thru that scare safely.
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:26 AM   #13
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Charlene What a blessing no one was hurt! I have never dropped a tagalong trailer but I did once drive out from under a 24 foot fifth wheel. Luckily it happened in a campground and didn't dent the pickup bed. Quite a sound when a gazillion pounds falls on your truck. Just look around at pickup trucks with the bed dented about halfway back and you will see you are a member of a very large group ( although most probably won't admit they belong to this club!). Anyway I now belong to the club same as most posters above....check and double check. Lee
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Old 05-30-2010, 10:54 PM   #14
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I'm glad to hear no one was hurt and so little damage experienced.

This thread is reminding me of two trips I've been on when my parents' stick trailers rolled:

1) I was a kid riding in a truck following my dad pulling the trailer (Sprite). The aftermarket bumper broke off the borrowed truck (bad welds) and the bumper and trailer ran off the side of the road and rolled down an embankment, landing wheels up. We were in Baja California. Some children at a deaf school nearby saw it and someone was sent to help us. They righted the trailer and we hauled it to the school where they guarded it after we emptied it of gear to go on with our mission to run a pit stop for a motorcycle rally. My dad picked up the trailer later and drove it home. He converted it to a race car trailer still in use.

2) I was an adult camping with my parents and other relatives in Zion National Park. My dad was busy hooking up the trailer (Quatro) for the next leg of our trip when he was interrupted for a family photo. We then started our caravan out of the park. My aunt was in a motor home following my folks. She had her video camera on when my dad drove over a cattle guard and the trailer popped off the hitch and rolled off the road and over into a ravine. The park service sent us a tow truck that righted the trailer and pulled it back to the road. My dad got a ticket from the park ranger, but he never blamed anyone for the interruption. He took all the blame himself. We strapped Quatro together and finished our trip. We've always marveled at the fortune of the trailer's place of exit off the road since there are many places in Zion from which it would be impossible to retrieve a rolled trailer. Quatro was a total loss and has been junked.

Besides connecting with others about personal experiences, I figure it's good to tell these tales if it helps people to remember to be careful about bumpers and hitches.

Leata
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